Monday 15 February 2021

Lady In Waiting by Anne Glenconner #LadyInWaiting @HodderBooks #AnneGlenconner #BookReview


Anne Glenconner has been close to the Royal Family since childhood. Eldest child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, she was, as a daughter, described as 'the greatest disappointment' by her family as she was unable to inherit. Her childhood home Holkham Hall is one of the grandest estates in England. Bordering Sandringham the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were frequent playmates.

From Maid of Honour at the Queen's Coronation to Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, Lady Glenconner is a unique witness to royal history, as well as an extraordinary survivor of a generation of aristocratic women trapped without inheritance and burdened with social expectations.

She married the charismatic but highly volatile Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who became the owner of Mustique. Together they turned the island into a paradise for the rich and famous, including Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and it became a favourite retreat for Princess Margaret.

But beneath the glitz and glamour there has also lurked tragedy. On Lord Glenconner's death in 2010 he left his fortune to a former employee. And of their five children, two grown-up sons died, while a third son had to be nursed back from a coma by Anne, after having suffered a near fatal accident.

Anne Glenconner writes with extraordinary wit, generosity and courage and she exposes what life was like in her gilded cage, revealing the role of her great friendship with Princess Margaret, and the freedom she can now finally enjoy in later life.

Lady In Waiting by Anne Glenconner was published by Hodder in hardback in October 2019, the paperback was published in June last year.

I bought this book way back in October 2019 when it was first published. I'd seen the author being interviewed on the Graham Norton show and was fascinated by her, and her story. Finally, I've read it and what an absolute treat it is. This is a heartfelt, honest, sometimes hilarious and often tragic story of a remarkable life, written by an incredible woman.

Anne Glenconner has lived a life that most of us can only imagine. She was born into the aristocracy. Her father was the fifth Earl of Leicester, she grew up in a stately home in Norfolk and our Queen and her younger sister Margaret were her playmates. 

Her heart was broken by the first man that she loved and she later went on to marry Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner. Whilst her husband was clearly a charmer, with a wide circle of friends and associates, he was also a very difficult man. His child-like mood swings were both frustrating and often dangerous. Many times throughout their marriage Anne was let-down, humiliated and embarrassed. However, she is a truly strong woman and she stayed loyal to her husband throughout the constant ups and downs of their marriage. Colin was unfaithful, he was a distant father, he was impetuous and self-centred.

Anne and Colin had five children; three boys and twin girls. Tragedy has followed her and her family around and as she relays the dreadful losses and the trauma of watching a son fight for life, the reader cannot help but feel total empathy towards her. 

Of course, it was her time as lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret that the book concentrates on in the main and her honest and often laugh out loud account of working alongside the often difficult Margaret are really a joy to read. From the heady days of parties on the island of Mustique to the later years of the Princess' life, Anne was a loyal servant, and friend. The warmth of feeling between these two extraordinary women is palpable and also fascinating to read. 

Lady In Waiting is full of gossip and intrigue. It lays bare the inner workings of society and is also a heartbreaking story of a wife and a mother. 

Entertaining, well written, witty and honest. I loved this and would recommend highly.

Lady Glenconner was born Lady Anne Coke in 1932, the eldest daughter of the 5th Earl of Leicester,
and growing up in their ancestral estate at Holkham Hall in Norfolk. 
A Maid of Honour at the Queen's Coronation, she married Lord Glenconner in 1956. They had 5 children together of whom 3 survive. 
In 1958 she and her husband began to transform the island of Mustique into a paradise for the rich and famous. 
They granted a plot of land to Princess Margaret who built her favourite home there. 
She was appointed Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret in 1971 and kept this role - accompanying her on many state occasions and foreign tours - until her death in 2002. 
Lord Glenconner died in 2010, leaving everything in his will to his former employee.

She now lives in Norfolk, England.

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